Topical treatment of necrotising herpes zoster with betulin from birch bark

Forsch Komplementmed. 2010 Oct;17(5):271-3. doi: 10.1159/000320592. Epub 2010 Sep 9.


Betulin, a pentacyclic triterpene, is the main constituent of the outer bark of birches (Betula alba). In recent years, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and differentiation-promoting effects of betulin have been described. A betulin-based emulsion without preservatives and detergent emulsifiers can be prepared from birch bark extract. We report the successful treatment with betulin emulsion of a severe necrotising herpes zoster in an immunosuppressed patient who had not responded to a conventional topical treatment. The betulin emulsion was directly applied to the wounds without causing any side effects. The presented case report demonstrates impressive skin tolerance and wound-healing properties of the betulin emulsion. These should be further evaluated.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Betula*
  • Herpes Zoster / drug therapy*
  • Herpes Zoster / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plant Bark / chemistry
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triterpenes / isolation & purification
  • Triterpenes / therapeutic use*
  • Wound Healing


  • Triterpenes
  • betulin